Investing: Is This a Golden Opportunity?

There's a good chance someone has tried to talk you into buying gold recently. The arguments go like this: it's an inflation hedge, a safe haven, its value has doubled in less than two years!

Banking: Forget The Lines

Online banks don't have bricks and they don't have mortar, but they've got great rates on savings accounts, and have pulled in some $60 billion in deposits.

Taxes: Cashing in on 2006

You've probably filed away your forms and the grim memories of April's tax season. But now is the time to lay groundwork so this year's taxes cause less pain.

Money: A Divided House

It's sad but true that siblings often go to war over their parents' estates. How to avoid surprises: parents, remember that equal isn't always fair. It's OK to leave more to one child if your reasons are sound, says Les Kotzer, author of "The Family Fight" ( familyfight.com ).

Money: How to Get More Cash

High-school seniors who received fat envelopes from colleges last week can stop worrying--and their parents can begin. Mom and Dad can expect to spend more than $50,000 a year to keep their kids in classes, books, dorms and pizzas at many private schools, and more than half that at out-of-state publics.

Money: Covering The Bases

File this under "do as we say, not as we do." Financial-research firm Morningstar, Inc., recently published its annual list of favorite 529 college-savings plans.

Fruits That Go Fizz

Schoolkids in Oregon are trying something new at lunch: carbonated fruit that the Fizzy Fruit Co. hopes will lead to effervescent profits. Founder Galen Kaufman discovered his product on a mid-1990s sailing trip when he ate a pear that had been stored in dry ice, which is made of carbon dioxide.

Money: How Good Is Debit?

Recent security breaches aren't stopping debit-card consumers. Shoppers now use debit as often as they pay cash, and more frequently than they charge or write checks, according to a new study by the American Bankers Association and Dove Consulting.

In-Flight Food Fight

Airline passengers aren't laughing at that old "the food is lousy and there's not enough of it" joke. They're too hungry. Most airlines have eliminated hot meals and free sandwiches, and are taking aim at the pretzels they still give coach customers.

Mints Are Still Free

Corporate travel managers are getting sticker shock at hotels. Reservations are way up, and hotel rates and per-room profits are expected to increase more in 2006 than at any other time since the early 1980s, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Money: Unhappy Returns

Don't buy that! Here are what regulators say are the most scam-susceptible investments of 2006. (See nasaa.org for more info.)Oil and gas deals. There's a guy on the Internet who wants to sell you a piece of an oilfield.

Money: Is It Good Advice?

Does your broker really have your back? New rules from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that went into effect this month hold financial advisers to a higher standard than stockbrokers, who don't always have to act in your best interest if it conflicts with theirs.

Money: Hidden Treasure

First it was closets and now it's safe-deposit boxes: they're just not big enough, say bankers who have waiting lists for super sized boxes. Maybe people are just trying to cram in too much junk and not the right stuff.

Must I Tip the Pilot?

Business travel in the air only seems glamorous to folks who don't do it. Upstart "boutique" airlines are working to change that: Eos and Maxjet recently began luxury service between New York to London, and Maxjet plans D.C.-to-London flights next month.

Goodbye, Qwerty

Computers get cooler, but your keyboard's as dull as ever. Just imagine if every key were a customizable monitor: each could display stock prices or sports updates, switch from one alphabet to another or represent musical notes.

Mortgages: Don't Pay Too Fast

Prepaying your mortgage was a great financial strategy in the 1990s, when interest rates topped 10 percent. But with many borrowers sitting on 5 percent and 6 percent loans, there are now better places to stash your cash.

Investments: Couples and Cash

Couples fight more about money than almost anything else. Skip the therapy and follow this advice from the pros. Pick a number. Husbands and wives should be able to spend some money without reporting it to each other, even if it's just for a birthday present.

Debt: Buyer's Remorse

If you're buried in bills, here's more bad news: help isn't on the way. Lenders are less likely to offer concessions to cash-strapped borrowers, reports the National Consumer Law Center.

ASK THE PRO

Tamara Draut, author of "Strapped: Why America's 20-and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead," spoke to TIP SHEET's Linda Stern about how the young can save.Struggling to make ends meet is a generational rite of passage, but it wasn't always as insurmountable.

Credit Cards: The Best Bonuses

Need a few more credit cards? Here are two worth adding to your wallet. The Chase Home Improvement Rewards card (chase.com) earns 3 percent back on purchases at hardware and paint stores, and 1 percent on everything else.

Money: Crummy Cookies

You've cleaned out the fridge; now it's time to get last year's cookies. We're talking, of course, about your computer. Its cookies--tags that Web sites stick in your browser to track where you've been and when you return--may also be --used to punish you for comparison shopping on travel sites.

Money: A Virtual Adviser

You're paying how much for that mutual fund? If you don't know--or you still think fees don't matter--check out the new fund-expense calculator at the National Association of Securities Dealers Web site ( nasd.com ).

Ask The Pro: David Lereah

New-home sales hit a record high in October, but mortgage rates rose, existing-home sales fell and home builders turned pessimistic. TIP SHEET's Linda Stern asked Lereah to identify that hissing sound.A balloon is probably a better image.

College: Save Now, Pay Less

Having college-bound kids is supposed to be good news. But it's tough to smile in the face of the latest College Board figures: tuition, room and board cost $29,026 for a year of private school and $12,127 for a state school.

401(K)'s: Stashing Your Cash

Add one more name to the long list of retirement accounts. Starting in January, roughly one in five companies will offer Roth 401(k) plans to their employees.

Giving: Choosing a Charity

Hurricanes and tsunamis don't cause donor fatigue; it's that tidal wave of charitable appeals cresting in your mailbox that can wear out your will to give.

Money: One-Click Investing

The big online brokers have been busy cutting commissions, beefing up customer service and buying each other. What does all that competition and consolidation mean to investors?

Hands Off My Knobs!

In the annals of ways to pester New York City pedestrians, first came the men dressed like chickens and wearing sandwich boards. The latest? Walking flat-screen TVs, which are vest-mounted monitors worn by models who hawk everything from Verizon job opportunities to HBO's pay-per-view of a Madison Square Garden boxing match.The promotional company behind the screens is Boston's AdsOnFeet, which was created as a class project by David Everett, a 24-year-old Emerson College dropout. (Everett left...

The Good Life

For years, the pitter-patter of little feet across the sundecks of the world's most exclusive getaways was anathema to the luxury-resort crowd. No longer.

Money: But Does It Rock?

Shopping for diamonds? Here's how to make sure your bling is the real thing. Start at the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices ( responsible jewellery.com ), where the big names pledge to eschew child labor, use international quality standards and protect the Earth.

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